Bravery

Cowardly Lions

“Courage cannot exist in isolation. Just as a flower needs sun, air, soil, and water to bloom, your courage depends on your interdependence with people and things. You must contemplate deeply to understand that when you do what is possible, you are not in free fall, but are cradled by your interdependence with the world around you. For example, you may decide to marry or to have a child, quit a job, risk an investment, explore your emotional past, or sign up to go back to college after many years’ absence. Your work is to distinguish what is important enough to require your commitment and what is not worthy of your courage. You can rest assure that when you act from true courage, the people, the tools, and your own inner knowing needed for the heroine’s journey will be available to you.” Living Your Yoga, by Judith Lasater, page43-44

Courage. I cannot help but think of the Cowardly Lion when I hear the word courage. Courage is all the Lion wanted, but he was so “cowardly” that he wanted someone else to give it to him, to help him find it, almost gift it in a way. It wasn’t till he was protecting Dorothy from the Wicked Witch that he realized that he had courage all along. As Oz pointed out, all he had to do was look within. How many times do we think we lack courage? How many times do we feel so small or meek that we can’t see our own power or potential? How many times do we shy away from opportunities because we tell ourselves that “we cannot do this”, “it is too risky”, “I will fail”, “insert other self-deprecating comment”? Probably more than we would like to admit. I know I do…

Recently I made a HUGE leap of faith, stepped out on a risk, went out of my comfort zone…I opened a yoga studio. Having my own studio was a dream that I didn’t think was possible at this point in my life. Certain things begin to open up and the idea of having my own space was starting to become real. At first I kept backing out, being scared. I am not a risk taker in shape or fashion and I do not like failing (huge fear of failure complex here). You can say I was lacking the courage to step out on my own. Lacking the courage to take this risk, the courage to follow my dream with abandon.

I have an amazing husband who helps me to take risks and step out on courage. With his help and support I walked out on my bridge of courage. It may have been a little rickety, like those rickety old bridges in fairy tales that cross a swamp, but nonetheless I started my journey across that bridge. I signed a rental agreement. I choose colors for the walls. I wrote a mission statement. I even opened up multiple social media accounts and put my phone number out in the public (I like to think of myself as very Ron Swanson when it comes to public information). My husband was the Oz to my Cowardly Lion. Showing me that I have the courage and strength within me. He constantly illuminates my courage. Each day I have to walk that bridge of courage as I operate my studio. There are days I am shaky, I think I don’t have any courage left, but I just have to illuminate myself like my husband does. Lift my head up high, straightforward gaze on the other end of the bridge and walk. Walk to the other side…

Do you see yourself as a Cowardly Lion? Do you run away when opportunity presents it self? Do you believe you are not worthy and keep living in fear? Do you think you have no courage? You do! All you have to do is look deep within and you will find it. When you find your courage you will see that life changes. Your point of view changes. The obstacle in your way suddenly becomes less scary. It even seems feasible! And you didn’t even need a Glenda or a Toto, though dogs do make better…

So how can you be courageous today? What is the one thing that you need to be strong to face? Just remember you are strong. You are courageous. You are not a cowardly lion.

there’s no crying in yoga! or is there?-The Time I Almost Cried in Savasana

Let’s start of with a few terms shall we?

kripaa/kripa: sanskrit for “grace”, but can also be used for “deep love”, “mercy”, “divine grace”

rainbow: a covenant from God promising us that he won’t flood the Earth again, also a symbol of hope

support: to hold up, bearing weight

savasana: the last pose of all yoga classes, where you lay on back, total rest/ultimate relaxation. Also known as corpse pose, because yogi’s imitate a dead body because once the spirit has left the body all motion stops

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I am an emotional, passionate, Fire element individual. Yet, don’t ask me to show you my emotions in public. I do not cry in front of people, I do not let go, I am not vulnerable (I have written about this a few times before). I am very guarded but slowly, ever so slowly,  my walls are breaking down.As an empath I feel a lot of emotion and sometimes it is overwhelming. I begin to feel someone else’s pain or tears and my viscera starts to turn and swell. I want to be there with them….BUT that means I would have to share that with others, GASP, I might cry in front of people. No thank you. I hear my peers talk about crying in savasana, they cry in check out, some just cry at the drop of a hat. Frankly it is annoying. I sit there in the circle and think, “Give me a break! Why don’t you suck it up? I have depression, an ED, GAD, and going through a huge transition in life and you don’t see me cry”.  Then Patanjali’s 8 Limbs and Jesus enters in and shows me that this is not very Christian, and it also violates ahimsa (non-harming). Instead of me putting my projections on others (something I am trying to work on), maybe they are in the right. Maybe it is me who has a problem. Maybe I need to let it out. Let the tears flow. Give up being strong for a brief moment, and be held…..

Being held….that takes me to my latest RYT experience.

Sunday we were blessed to have the amazing Joe Taft for the day. I have never had him before, but from the moment he walked in Mountain Yoga, I knew he would be an amazing spirit and teacher for my peers and myself. After a two hour lecture, he lead us in a masterclass that was open to the public. So all my yoga mentors and my yoga peers were all gathered in one room. The energy was electric, and there was support. All of us yogini’s were there for the other. We were there for the other on our right, on our left, in front of us, and behind us. Joe then preceded to tell us an amazing story of one of his clients and how he found yoga not on a mat but through a rainbow, to be more specific, a double rainbow. We were then guided through the intention of finding the rainbow. Making our bodies a double rainbow by arching the front of our torso and arching our back torso. We were also led to feel the support of that rainbow and the support of whatever we believe in (be it God, nature, other spiritual aspect). All through the class we were constantly brought back to that, especially in the hardest of poses. Which correlates to when we are in the most difficult of times we need to find that rainbow, find that support (for me it is Jesus, his grace, and my husband). ***I always love the moments I meet Jesus on my mat, and when yoga and Christianity just intersect together***

Asana after asana, flow after flow, cosmic surfer after cosmic surfer, we started to cool it down. Take the breath back in and find our way into our savasana. As myself and my fellow practitioners are lying there in savasana Joe talks about kripaa/kripa. Joe describes the feeling of being held by something that is greater than ourselves, what he likes to call the universal (for me, again, that is Jesus).  All of a sudden I am surrounded by Jesus’ grace, I can fill his mercy and lovingkindness. I am full. I begin to pray, as I always do in savasana, thanking God for his grace and this feeling that is pouring out through my heart, and then…..I begin to fill my tear duct swell. Tears? Tears in public? It can’t be!?  Instead of hiding from it fully, or avoiding like I usually do, I decided to just be there with that sensation. What it feels like to almost cry in public. Just what it feels like to have those tear ducts swell and the face start to get hot and melty. I didn’t cry out loud, but it definitely was a great experience to almost have it. And honestly, if I would have cried out loud, I don’t think I would’ve been embarrassed. Why? Because I could then share the love of God and his grace and how it can, as a song says, be an ocean and sink us.

As I sit here today writing this entry I still feel that grace supporting me. That grace, that mercy, that kripaa/kripa, holding me. I look for that rainbow. When I start to feel down I just imagine being in a sea kripaa/kripa. My hope for you today is that you look for that rainbow. Look for that universal thing that is bigger than you and let your universal guide you through your day and hopefully you can experience being held by it or by sinking in an ocean full of kripaa/kripa.

Namaste and God Bless.

O and thank you Joe Taft for opening my heart center.

 

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sources:

Merriam-Webster

spoken sanskrit

http://www.isca-apologetics.org/sites/default/files/papers/Jared%20Martinez/Corduan-WordsForGraceInHinduism.pdf,

Light On Yoga

the Holy Bible

Vulnerability

Vulnerability: susceptible to attack or harm either emotionally or physically…capable of being wounded or hurt….

This is without a doubt the hardest thing for me. I have always avoided being vulnerable, be it with my emotions/letting people in/trusting of others/letting people see who I am. I have such high walls and must always be perfect that I rarely showcase the entire me. This more than likely comes from being an open book in my early early days and people taking advantage of that, my fear of rejection, and because I have to be perfect. I feel as if I have this standard to maintain and opening up can ruin what I have worked so hard to attain. After some therapy sessions  I know that being vulnerable will not ruin my appearance or presentation, but if anything help enhance it and let people know me. People may not see that I have this problem because I am passionate about EVERYTHING! I am easily excitable, but if you look past that, do you ever see me open up truly? Through the past few therapy sessions we have come to the conclusion that this is where I am: I am ready to be fully vulnerable and open up but it scares me and that is why I can’t jump off the vulnerable mountain top yet.  Which I have now realized, especially in my yoga teacher training weekends, I am opening up more and more without even noticing it. And guess what…my peers are accepting and don’t think anything about my struggle with anxiety, depression, and body image…if anything it has made a few come to me and I feel as if I am more into the group of future teacher trainers now than I was before…

My therapist then proceeded to have me watch the following TED Talk (which I ADORE them!). I wanted to share this with you in case you struggle with vulnerability or just to gain more insight on how powerful vulnerability can be. Or you can watch this because Brene Brown is just hilarious. The choice is yours….

Inspiration from a newsletter: Shakti in the Mountains

I received the following newsletter in my e-mail a week or so ago and I found it so moving:

 

Dear Reader,

Choosing to step into the light sounds like an easy choice. I mean who wouldn’t want to play in the sun opposed to stay in the dark. Right? Uh, right.  And yet many of us can recall times, perhaps even now, when the darkness felt, if not comfortable, familiar and safe. Like a vampire who is afraid of combusting, we, too, fear to step into the light. 

Don’t worry you are normal. Stepping into the light, while ultimately rewarding, is also scary. No longer can you hide who you are or what you want. When you move into the light, you are seen, not so much by others, but rather by yourself. No more subterfuge, no more camouflage. You see you.

This conscious choice to recognize yourself, includes the good, the bad and the ugly. I can hear you now. “What you say? I have to acknowledge the bad and the ugly too.” Yep, you sure do. However before you freak out and run screaming in the opposite direction, let me remind you that the bad and the ugly are just labels. Labels given by someone else. Someone who did not know how to be in relationship with all of us, so they segregated the part of us they could not handle and gave it a label: bad, ugly, disappointed, ashamed.

You are not really bad or really ugly. You are actually really good, and while it is true that sometimes good people make bad choices, the act of making a bad choice does not make us inherently bad. (This is why self-compassion is so important.)

Stepping into the light is honoring the parts of us that we buried to make other people comfortable. This journey is so essential not only to feeling good about yourself but also is essential to feeling whole. I want each one of you to experience this wholeness, this goodness. As someone who embarked on this journey years ago, I can tell you have no regrets and have only received many gifts.

So acknowledge any fear or reservations you may have about taking this journey and then commit to going on a Shadow Walk with me this summer. Don’t let fear tell you you do not have enough money or time to go on this journey. You will find the time and the money. I trust you will. And when you do, I will be waiting for you, waiting for ALL of you.

Love,

Kim 

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This is so beautifully written what else could there be to say? We are really good. We need to practice self-compassion and self-love. Who doesn’t want to feel whole and complete?

If you live close enough to Johnson City, TN please think about going on the Shadow Walk. I would love to be a part of it if my life wasn’t consumed with festivals and weekend engagements for work. Even if you can’t do the Shadow Walk with Kim, maybe try your own. Explore your dark places and bring light into your life.

For more information on Shakti in the Mountains, check out their website: http://www.shaktiinthemountains.com/

Peace and Namaste,

Leslie

 

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Friday Night Fun Night=Friday Not So Fun Night

We have all had embarrassing moments right? I am sure as you are reading that sentence your most embarrassing moment is running across your mind. You may even have multiple moments. I think there are certain people who just attract embarrassing moments. I say that because I am a very very outgoing individual and that lends itself to some very interesting/semi-embarrassing moments.

While I have ran into a flag pole, fallen on stage during a dance performance, played a variety of food throwing games at youth retreats, accidentally posted  private stuff on Xanga in high school (o yes, I just went there); I will say what happened to me not so long ago is the worst. It wasn’t even embarrassing. It was mortifying. Yet, ad mist all that embarrassment, I learned new things about my friends and learned how to be more honest with who I am.

My husband and I have made friends with two other couples in our neighborhoods. All roughly the same age and mostly in the same area of life. After months of lacking sisterhood with women, and longing for companionship outside of my dog Winston and my husband, I have meet two incredible women and their husbands. Even all the husbands get along. We celebrated New Years together,  we hang out on the porch while the three year old of one of the couples runs in the yard with Winston. You might call us the Claire Lane Gang.

Two Friday nights ago we decided to get out of the house and all go out. So what do you do in a small town with  no bars? Go bowling of course! And not just any bowling alley a true 1970-1980s bowling alley. We arrive at the ever so early hour of 7:30. Get our awesome bowling shoes and pick our bowling nicknames for our score sheet. My lovely other half gives me $3 to go pick songs on the jukebox (a nice mix of Hootie and the Blowfish, JT, Gagnam Style, Bon Jovi, Sublime, Foreigner, Old Crow Medicine Show, ACDC), all of us are ready to throwdown.

First game is on. All of us are having a good time laughing and cutting up. Most of us girls are doing fair while the men are killing it. I am getting upset and determined to win (though I am in last place) because I am all way too competitive. After that is all said and done we start game two. Two frames in…I…GET…A…STRIKE!!!!!!!!!! I jump for joy and BAM! I fall to the ground very un-ballerina like. I hobble back to my seat brushing it off. Inside I am dying. My whole body is hurting. I have to relieve myself because I am nervous but I can’t walk. I want to throw up because I am nervous but I can’t walk. I am stuck on my chair feeling helpless, restless, and uneasy. My hubby notices that I am about to have an anxiety attack and comes over to me. Looks at my foot and tries to calm me down. I tell him I need to go to the bathroom to vomit. One of the ladies comes with me. I start crying, my head goes light, the rooms spins, and DOWN…I…GO. I fall over and hit my head on an arcade machine before one of my friends catches me. I passed out momentarily. When I woke my friend asked me if I have anxiety. To which, I honestly replied, yes.  But then I hear the words, “I do too. I know how you feel.” While that hasn’t really registered with me, husband dearest sees me fall and rushes over to me. I start bawling hysterically because I can’t walk, I looked like a fool, and now someone knows I have anxiety/panic attacks. I CRAWL on all fours to the closest door and just flop like a rug onto the cold concrete stop outside the bowling alley. My head over the edge puking, no shoes on, hair a mess, I am shivering from the cold weather and my anxiety.

The love of my life follows me outside. Cuddles me and gently coaxes me into a softer state. In between sobs I agree to go home though I hate to leave. I even talk about how everyone now knows I have anxiety. I try to keep it from happening in public but I felt as if I failed hiding it. That is made me weak. To which my husband said that was not the case. Especially since one of the ladies has anxiety too and talked to me about it. Still not wanting to believe him (because what wife with a mental illness who has a busted foot that is turning black really wants to listen to her husband who happens to be correct?), we get home (at the ever so early hour of 9:30) and nurse me back to health.

The following day while RICE’ing my poor foot, I was texting the woman who confided in me that she has anxiety. The more we talked the more we had in common. Battling similar battles, our thoughts on therapy and medication. She even said that I can start talking to her when I am starting to deal with Melvin (my ED) and and GAD symptoms. Instead of embarrassment, I felt relief. Here is someone who knows my dark side and relates to it! I have someone next door (not just a phone call away like other people on my support team), but I can just walk right over there and say, “Help me.” Or say. “I am struggling. Can you talk?”. What a wonderful thing!

To make this even better, and only in my life would this happen, I read a passage in Soulprint about embarrassment that morning at work: “Embarrassing moments are horrible, no doubt. But they are also wonderful. Few things are as freeing as a little embarrassment. It frees us from the burden of pretense, and it forces us to stop taking ourselves so seriously. In a sense, embarrassment is one way we die to self. And dying to self is one way we come to life….One dimension of humility is the ability to laugh at ourselves, and I’m convinced that the happiest, healthiest, and holiest people on the planet are those who laugh at themselves the most (pg. 95).”

I will have to agree with Mr. Mark Batterson, embarrassment is freeing and it helps open ourselves up to receive the gift/blessing/intimacy of others.

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Question: Do you have an embarrassing moment? If so what was it? Did you learn anything from it? I would LOVE to hear from you!

Relapse: Stepping Forward, Stepping Back

relapse: to fall back or revert to an earlier point (Webster’s Dictionary, 1991)

In any form of recovery the word relapse is a scary word. We try to avoid it like the plague. It becomes a “bad” word. Yet, it is completely unavoidable. There is no way around relapsing. It happens. The thing about relapses is that the farther along one is in recovery, the less frequent they become, the episodes may be shorter (an hour or two, maybe just one day not a week), and how we approach them changes (we are kinder to ourselves, we have our toolkit, support buddies, etc…).

When I first started recovery a little over two years ago I wrote relapsing on my FEARS list. In red ink it says: relapsing…leaving therapy/quitting it…recovery in general…among other fears. Relapse was scary to me because I interpreted it as a lack of control and that I was a failure at recovery (and ED’s LOVE to jump on the failure bandwagon). Also, I had no idea what to expect. My relapse could be anywhere from a simple day of over exercising, skipping a meal, counting/measuring my food intake, negative thoughts, weighing myself multiple times a day, looking at Muscle and Fitness or other NPC mags, taking extra fiber pills or laxatives; and how would I react. So much unknown.

Compound this on top of being a perfectionist and relapse is a super bad word/concept/idea/situation. In the perfecitonistic style  you approach recovery this way even though you are suppose to decrease these tendencies and be gentle/kid/loving to yourself. Instead you avoid anything that has to deal with relapse. While doing so, you relapse. It is inevitable to avoid a relapse. Something happens, you can’t cope and BAM you are in a relapse. Your first relapse is scary. You don’t know what to do. It can last for days! Maybe a week. Maybe two. You cry out to your therapist and support buddies for help. Finally it is over. You survived your first relapse. Like anything else, the first one is the hardest. Then maybe a week later you have another one. Another freak out, another cry out. This cycle keeps happening. You are learning to navigate this new life without another person who lives inside of you telling you how to live your life and you don’t know what to do. As time goes on you do know what to do. You have found your own personal recovery relapse tool kit. A blue print. Maybe you can feel a relapse coming on so you call a buddy. Maybe you do some yoga and meditate on positive thoughts. Or you have the ability to make a quick call to your therapist. Anything. You feel strong, empowered. Relapse can’t get you down.

Just as you think you are doing great it has been quite some time since a relapse then out of the woods a relapse comes upon you. Except this time, you are letting your ED in. He/she is coming back to roost. At first you try your tools. You call a buddy, go to therapy, chant a mantra, but nothing works. Then this feeling of laziness, comfortableness, the friendship of your ED comes back and the relapse lasts. It doesn’t stop. You can’t get it go away so you decide to let it be and have a picnic with you. Those scale weighing fits, the laxative abuse, the negative talk/thought conversations, the weighing/measuring/counting, the binges of exercise, hating everything you eat, obsessive “fat talk”  is your life again. And you just don’t… know… what…to… do….

I say all this I am here. I am at the corner of Recovery Road and Relapse BLVD. Melvin (my ED), has come back and decided to make himself a nice little home here again. I try to stay above it all but, I am finding myself lackadaisical with recovery. I am criticizing I what I eat but I follow it up with, “At least I am not restricting or counting.” I am paranoid if I am eating correctly and why I keep eating so much. My hubby tells me, “You did Nutcracker for two weeks straight and ate lots of yogurt and had a weird eating schedule.” I didn’t starve during Nutcracker. So that is a HUGE improvement (I usually eat very little during performances you know because of costumes). I now have boobs and having to deal with those while performing was a new and stressful experience which made me had them even more than I do. I keep checking my stomach to see if I am fat or asking the hubs if my legs are turning into cottage cheese.  I am becoming lazy with journaling and the 12 Steps. I just don’t want to do that anymore. I know I need to but, being the personality that gets tired of things, I want something new. Therapy has just been ok. I feel stuck. I am a four wheeler stuck in the mud and can’t get out. I may be not diving back into old habits but I am not getting out of the mud.

I am sick and tired of being this way. This is no way to  live. This is the whole reason why I started recovery. Life wasn’t as fun as it could be. With this being said and the new year is here, it is time for me to hop back on this recovery train. Start my new year off fresh and kick Melvin out. Start working the steps again, call my circle of support, have special yoga sessions.  All in the name of new life and new year.

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Brave

I really dig the song “Brave”by Sara Bareilles. It is not often that a positive, non people bashing, non-sexual, song plays on the airwaves anymore. I also enjoy the video. Bareilles uses a wide variety of people to dance in her video. They dance in public, in rooms, in a mall and they don’t care. They just dance.They are being brave. Dance is being used a physical representation of bravery. Each person has a different back story, just like you and me, and they are stepping out against it by dancing. Through song and dance they are gaining the strength to be brave about their situation.

The same goes for you and me. Throughout our life we will have moments, trials, situations where we are called to be brave.  We have to dance through them, climb that mountain, ride that train or jump over those hurdles. I haven’t been on the earth very long, but I have already had situations where I needed to be brave.

The first I think of is being brave against my eating disorder and exercise addiction. Having to admit that I am powerless, I am insane, I have  a problem (paraphrase of Step 1). Then making a conscious choice to recover and face ALL that comes with recovery. The torment, the relapses, the “I feel good about myself days”, the “I ate french fries and enjoyed it” days, days I want to crawl into the bed and just hide from the world and my self. The never ending battle against myself with help of MY higher power. Recovery is not for the faint of heart. It is for the brave. Bravery to become transparent. Bravery to choose a new way of life. Bravery to face those relapses and dig myself out of them. Bravery to eat more french fries. Bravery to call out to  my support group when I am having “fat days” or when I am tempted to starve.

Another moment of bravery I have been faced with is leaving a negative relationship. Instead of going back and back to the one who obviously doesn’t want to be with me,  I chose to step away and pick up the pieces of my broken self. Being brave to face the world without him and being brave to admit that “he wasn’t the one”, “if he really loved me he wouldn’t force me to for go a career or say demeaning things to me”.  It is not easy leaving a bad relationship, especially when they have you thinking that you are not worthy. Couple that with a mental illness (eating disorder), perfectionism, and you have one hot mess. When I decided to be brave, my friends and family helped me move on from one relationship. After months of prayer, being free and brave, The Lord, brought me who is now my future husband. Isn’t that a great reward for bravery?

These are just two examples in my life where I have had to be brave.

Now, I ask you, when have you had to be brave? Was it your walk with Christ? Was it an addiction? A relationship? Telling someone how you feel? Setting up boundaries? What was the outcome? A sense of pride or a reward? I wanna know. I wanna hear. Who knows, sharing your story might give someone else the courage to be brave.